"Murray is the best kind of literary biographer" – The Financial Times.
For more information about the books of Nicholas Murray
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Winner of the 2015 Basil Bunting Award for poetry

Monday 15 May 2023

From a Loyal Subject

 Invective for an Imminent Investiture

Here is our gift to you, please take it, everyone needs a Prince,

and Wales should be grateful: never look a gift horse in the mouth

in spite of missing or yellowing teeth and various hints,

in the region of the back end of the nag, of trouble to come.

There are experts on hand with handbooks of courtly etiquette;

they are skilled in the manufacture of tradition, protocol,

they can sketch a crimson carpet unrolled over stone steps

for brocaded slippers to tread (slowly, magnificently).

They have studied form, know what The People love to see

in a gilded procession, trumpets blasted in a row

from a high turret (castles in such cases obligatory)

and everything that flags and clopping horses can do.

Roll out the barrel. Chips with everything. Party time!

A small girl speaks into a microphone: it was so emotional.

She is persuaded that the King and her grandad chime,

show the same wrinkles and baldy twinkles, smile

with the lovely ease of condescension at The Young

who are seen to look up from their mobiles and gawp,

briefly, before a Tweet comes in or an anthem is sung

whose words they fumble for, heads scratched in bafflement.

In a city street, tables are erected for iced cakes, and the TV,

like a holy icon, burbles all day long, watched or unwatched,

as the bunting in Butetown or Bangor flutters free

and crowds line the route waiting to touch the royal hand.

All it needs now is a senate of bards, druid-like, holding a lyre

(or is it a leek?) with their formal odes hymning the Prince,

their long faces gravid with obedience, the loyal leer,

hands folded in front, heads bowed, white garments rippling.

Here is a battlement, high and windswept, jackdaws in flight.

All it needs is a short leap through the bright air

down to the mortal rocks, the sea foaming white,

and freedom at last in a thousand smithereens.

[First published in Planet, Feb-April 2022]

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